Construction[ edit ] Originally built as a minelaying submarine, she was laid down at the Germaniawerft in Kiel on 1 April ; U was damaged during construction, but launched on 22 December Following the loss of U in July , it was decided not to use U as a minelayer; she was completed instead as a long-range cargo submarine with missions to Japan in mind.
This equipment was installed on the starboard side of the conning tower. It could be mounted in either the Direction Finder Antenna Loop and separately on the bridge. Apart from minor work, she had a snorkel added and 12 of her 30 mineshafts were fitted with special cargo containers the same diameter as the shafts and held in place by the mine release mechanisms.
In addition, her keel was loaded with cargo, thought to be optical-grade glass and mercury, and her four upper-deck torpedo storage compartments two on each side were also occupied by cargo containers. When loading was completed, the submarine's officers estimated that they were carrying tons of cargo plus sufficient diesel fuel and provisions for a six- to nine-month voyage. In the book Hirschfeld, Wolfgang Hirschfeld reported that he saw about 50 lead cubes with 23 centimetres 9.
According to cable messages sent from the dockyard, these containers held "U-powder". Passengers[ edit ] U was carrying twelve passengers, including a German general, four German naval officers, civilian engineers and scientists and two Japanese naval officers.
The submersible spent the next eight days carrying out trials on her snorkel, during which she accidentally collided with a Type VIIC U-boat performing similar trials. Damage to both submarines was minor, and despite a diving and fuel oil tank being holed, U was able to complete her trials.
She then proceeded to Kristiansand, arriving on about 5 April, where she underwent repairs and topped up her provisions and fuel. From then on, she spent two hours running on the surface by night, and the remainder of the time submerged.
The voyage proceeded without incident; the first sign that world affairs were overtaking the voyage was when the Kriegsmarine's Goliath transmitter stopped transmitting, followed shortly after by the Nauen station. Fehler did not know it, but Germany's naval HQ had fallen into Allied hands.
Fehler suspected a trick and managed to contact another U-boat U , whose captain convinced him that the message was authentic.
At this point, Fehler was practically equidistant from British, Canadian and American ports. He decided not to continue his journey, and instead headed for the east coast of the United States.
Fehler thought it likely that if they surrendered to Canadian or British forces, they would be imprisoned and it could be years before they were returned to Germany; he believed that the US, on the other hand, would probably just send them home. Fehler consequently decided that he would surrender to US forces, but radioed on 12 May that he intended to sail to Halifax, Nova Scotia to surrender to ensure Canadian units would not reach him first.
U then set course for Newport News, Virginia ; during the passage Fehler took care to dispose of his Tunis radar detector, the new Kurier radio communication system, and all Enigma related documents and other classified papers.
On learning that the U-boat was to surrender, the two Japanese passengers committed suicide by taking an overdose of Luminal a barbiturate sedative and antiepileptic drug. They were buried at sea. The difference between Fehler's reported course to Halifax and his true course was soon realized by US authorities who dispatched two destroyers to intercept U Members of Sutton's crew took command of the U-boat and sailed her to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard , where U, U, and U had already surrendered.
Velma Hunt, a retired Penn State University environmental health professor, has suggested U may have put into two ports between her surrender and her arrival at the Portsmouth Navy Yard: Reporters swarmed over the Navy Yard and went to sea in a small boat for a look at the submarine. Secret cargo[ edit ] A classified US intelligence summary written on 19 May listed U's cargo as including drawings, arms, medical supplies, instruments, lead, mercury, caffeine, steels, optical glass and brass.
Scalia claimed to have found a formerly secret cable at Portsmouth Navy Yard which stated that the uranium oxide had been stored in gold-lined cylinders rather than cubes as reported by Hirschfeld; the alleged document is discussed in Scalia's book Hitler's Terror Weapons. The exact characteristics of the uranium remain unknown; Scalia and historians Carl Boyd and Akihiko Yoshida have speculated that rather than being weapons-grade material it was instead intended for use as a catalyst in the production of synthetic methanol for aviation fuel.
It was most likely transferred to the Manhattan Project 's Oak Ridge diffusion plant. The uranium oxide would have yielded approximately 7. In popular culture[ edit ].